The Case for Church-Affiliated Businesses
Today I’d like to go into more of an opinion piece that will possibly stir up some controversy within the Lutheran community. I’d like to talk about the idea of church-associated and run businesses, and why I believe they are where churches should be headed towards in the future.
Obviously there are many opinions out there regarding the ethics of this, and whether the church should be ‘in business’. I would like to address some of those, as well as some of the advantages of the church sponsoring and helping more of these types of organizations.
Ease of Money Burdens
One of the biggest arguments on the side supporting the church associating themselves and starting businesses is the ease of the financial burden. Traditionally, churches have almost entirely relied on donations and offerings from the congregation to pay for the day-to-day happenings of the church. If donations go down, so does the church budget. That type of giving can be unsteady, and also may be affected significantly from down swings in the economy.
When a church can use business ventures to fund itself, then many of the worries and burdens of making sure they have enough money to survive is predominantly taken care of. Churches can then focus more on outreach to the community, and how it can be more effective with the areas it serves.
Create a Stronger Community
Having local businesses associated with the church also creates a stronger sense of community, especially when business is kept within the body of believers. People come to rely on each other within the church, and not as much on outside help.
Give kids a safe place to work and grow
Having businesses closely associated with the church also gives kids who are going through middle and high school a chance to get access to a business they normally wouldn’t, for on-the-job training in skills and trades that they could go into. Even simple summer jobs would be easier to get, and in a work environment that would be obviously more friendly towards Christian beliefs.
Church becomes more corporate
While some of the reasons for the church to become more entwined with business, a large amount of people fear the church becoming too ‘corporate’ and focused on money, which is a valid concern. With ‘mega churches’ springing up all over North America, some people are viewing church more as a showcase of buildings, and not nearly as much on the actual mission of equipping and training believers.
Possible abuse and manipulations
With the church’s hand in businesses, the door could also be possibly opened up to more abuse and manipulations of the system, with religion as the masking. Sometimes beliefs make people do strange things, and while we all hope other Christians would never do this, we are all in fact human.
The last issue that many people see with business and the church is the non-profit status that almost every church carries. They are designed to be a religious worship institution, and not trying to make money off of it. But with new church-specific businesses, that boundary and idea is now really blurred. What is the primary role of the church now?
So in the end, you will need to make up your own mind and figure out what the meaning of ‘church’ really is to you. Is it alright if they try to sustain and fund themselves, so they don’t have to rely on donations? Or does that go against too much of what they are? Leave a comment about it below!